Taxpayers in Astoria and Warrenton will save money on bonds taken out for school construction after the school districts received healthy ratings and sizable premiums from investors.

Astoria received $9.4 million more than expected from the $70 million in bonds approved by voters in November to rebuild a middle school academic wing and modernize and secure other campuses. Warrenton received nearly $4 million more than the $38.5 million in bonds voters approved to buy a master campus and build a new middle school.

School bonds

Yes For Astoria Kids, a political action committee created to support the school district’s $70 million bond, put out signs, posters, social media posts and videos for the bond campaign in November.

“We are required to use the premium as part of the bond projects,” said Craig Hoppes, the school superintendent in Astoria. “Our plan is all the premium money will go into contingency to make sure we can pay for what we have planned for.”

Warrenton had created a priority list of projects to complete with the bond, starting with the purchase of a new campus and construction of a middle school. Projects farther down the priority list include building a new career-technical education center, replacing Warrenton High School’s roof, re-siding campuses and installing security vestibules, doors and cameras.

With the premium, along with a $4 million matching state grant secured upon passage of the bond, Warrenton now has a cushion to ensure all projects can be completed, said Mike Moha, the business manager in Warrenton.

Taxpayers will also see a lower bill after both Astoria and Warrenton’s bonds received high ratings from investors confident in the school districts’ financial wherewithal.

Astoria estimates the property tax burden will decrease from $2.83 to $2.75 per $1,000 of assessed property value in the first year of payments. Warrenton expects the average cost of its bond to taxpayers to decrease from an estimated $2.68 to $2.51 over the life of the bond, Moha said.

“At the time, the market for bonds was really good,” Moha said of the bond sales this winter. “The stock market was kind of jittery at the time, but that’s good for bond sales.”

Clatsop County will sell nearly $20 million worth of bonds later this month to fund the remodel of the former North Coast Youth Correctional Facility in Warrenton into a new county jail. Monica Steele, the interim county manager, said the bonds have already received a favorable rating.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Daily Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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